Albert Einstein once defined insanity as, “Doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.”
This is often true with stopping smoking. Smoking can permeate every corner of a person’s life. When planning to quit, many things may need to change to minimize the risk of relapsing. While stop smoking medications are very important in successful quitting, there are three behavioral areas that may need attention as well:
Do Something Different: Find a hand-held substitute to replace the cigarette.
Cravings typically last between 3-5 minutes before they pass. It can be helpful to identify things to hold that can keep your hands and mind busy. Playing a game on your phone, squeezing a stress ball, or holding a pen can replace the habit of holding something that came with smoking. Stopping smoking can even be an opportune time to pick up a new hobby that will fill time previously spent smoking.
Put Your Money where Your Mouth Is: Replacing the hand-to-mouth act of smoking.
As weight gain can be a concern for some when quitting, finding something to satisfy the routine of lifting a cigarette to your mouth may not only help break this old habit, but save you calories as well. Experimentation is key! Different strategies work for different people. Cinnamon sticks, throat lozenges, or chewing gum have worked for some, while having a bottle of water handy has helped curb cravings for others.
Pay It Forward: Discover ways to reinforce your recovery efforts and express gratitude.
The world needs volunteers! Give your time to a charity or cause that truly resonates with you. Sign up to work at a food shelf, help out at a hospital, or assist a neighbor in carrying their groceries. Perhaps you want help others with quitting tobacco by leading a Nicotine Anonymous group, or participating in a panel discussion to discourage teenagers from starting to smoke. The options are virtually limitless! Whatever you choose – make it something that you feel strongly about.
Regardless of what you do differently, the very fact that you’ve made these small but very substantial changes to your routine signals to you, and those around you, that your life is different now that you are stopping smoking. Find what works for you as you walk your path to a healthier life!